Rancid's Tim Armstrong will never need another day job because punk rock will never go out of style. For proof, just ask anyone who attended the sold-out Rancid/AFI/The Distillers show at the Hollywood Palladium.
Led by Armstrong's Australian-born wife, Brody, the new-look Distillers kicked off the evening. And despite the departures of singer-bassist Kim Fuelleman and drummer Mat Young, the revamped Distillers are a four-piece again. The new Distillers include a Robert Smith-looking male bassist and also a female lead guitarist who could pass for Brody's little sister. As the group performed roaring mini-anthems like "Oh Serena," "LA Girl," and "Red Carpet and Rebellion," the new members showed they are a lot cuter and more acrobatic than the Fuelleman/Young model. Unfortunately, some of the Distillers' original chemistry and intensity has disappeared with the new additions. And the hard-singing Brody definitely missed the absent Fuelleman's backing vocals on the set-closing, "The Blackest Years."
No strangers to line-up changes themselves, Davey Havok and crew have molded the present-day AFI into a heavily Misfits-inspired, Halloween-loving creation. Surrounded by a smoke machine and glowing pumpkin props, the devil-locked, pancake make-up wearing Havok took the Palladium stage as the audience chanted "AFI, AFI." From there, the theatrical Havok began striking classic Christ-like poses as he and the fans sang how they wanted "to taste the blood" during "The Sacrifice Theory." And yes, the crowd at the Palladium knew the complete lyrics to every AFI song. Havok appropriately ended AFI's set by climbing into the audience and singing "Totalimmortal" in the arms of the fans.
Unlike AFI and the Distillers, Rancid has kept its original line-up together since forming in 1991. And even though punk rock is not as commercially mainstream as it was a few years ago, the East Bay band still has a young and fanatical following. Enthusiastic fans greeted the entrance of Rancid's Tim Armstrong, Lars Frederiksen, Matt Freeman, and Brett Reed by starting a massive circle slam pit. And Armstrong, with his eyes hidden behind dark motorcycle cop shades, responded by leading Rancid into songs spanning the group's decade-long career. Of the many highlights, one was Armstrong's performance of the true-life "Hoover Street," which he sang from the top of his speaker cabinets. Another was Freeman's heartfelt rendition of the long distance love song, "Black Derby Jacket." And Armstrong, Frederiksen, and Freeman all traded lead verses on 1995's unity anthem, "Roots Radical."
After ending their set with "Dead Bodies" and "Ruby Soho," Armstrong and Frederiksen put down their guitars and left Freeman and Reed alone to perform a final bass and drums solo. Before leaving the Palladium stage, though, a smiling Armstrong gave the fans one last goofy, goodbye wave. So, until next time